Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II
The Transylvanian Question seems at first sight a side-show in the story of the Nazi New Order and the Second World War. These two allies of the Third Reich spent much of the war arguing bitterly among themselves over Transylvania’s future, and Europe’s leaders, Germany and Italy, were drawn into their dispute to prevent it from spiraling into a regional war. Germany’s strength and success could thus be measured not only by its military prowess, but by its ability to preserve the Axis Alliance. But precisely as a result of this dynamic, the story of the Transylvanian question offers a new way into a rather larger question-the history of the European idea-or how state leaders and national elites have interpreted what “Europe” means and what it does. For tucked into the folds of the Transylvanian Question’s bizarre genealogy is a secret that no one ever tried to keep, but that has somehow remained a secret nonetheless. The secret is this: small states matter. The perspective of small states makes Europe look quite different, and puts the struggle for mastery among its Great Powers in a new and perhaps chastening perspective. In short, when we look closely at what people in small states think and how they behave, the history of twentieth-century Europe itself looks suddenly transformed.
Holly Case is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Her book, entitled "Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II," was published by Stanford University Press in May of 2009.